Sunday, August 29, 2010

Uzbek Suzani Needlework

I love the Internet for so many reasons, not least of which is stumbling across the cross-fertilization of quilting designs among so many different cultures.

Doesn't this Uzbek bed cover remind you somewhat of a 19th century 
American applique Sampler quilt?

The modern Uzbek population represents varying degrees of diversity derived from the high traffic invasion routes through Central Asia. Once populated by Iranian tribes and other Indo-European people, Central Asia experienced numerous invasions emanating out of Turks and Mongols that would drastically affect the region. It stands to reason that due to ancient trade routes and migration that Western Europe would become aware of Indo-European designs very early on.

Here is another Uzbek bedcover with a black velvet background. This one reminds me of the black background quilts that began to appear about 12-15 years ago. Who first began to make these popular among American quilters?

There is a photo of a quilt top with black background in Barbara Brackman's "Prairie Flower: A Year on the Plains" published in 2001. However I am certain I saw them even sooner than this in Quilters Unlimited of Northern Virginia's big annual show. Anyone want to chime in with a date and teacher who began to promote this kind of coloring for a quilt in the past 20 years?

(Click on a photo to see a larger image.)

From Asia to Europe to America?

So what is a suzani? Here is a link to additional information with photos.

Below is a sales plug on one site I found.

The term Suzani means "needlework"--specifically, the exquisite silk thread embroidery panels made by Uzbek women. Traditionally this embroidery work began at the birth of a daughter and continued, with the help of family and friends, until the bride's dowry was complete. As the Soviet era ended and Westerners discovered Central Asian folk arts, the price of antique suzanis skyrocketed. Now brings you recent and contemporary suzanis, affordably priced. Our suzanis are genuine folk art, stitched by hand in the traditional manner. Once used as coverlets for the bridal bed, these gorgeous textiles can bring color and texture to any environ. Suzani make delightful wall hangings, bedspreads, furniture throws, pillows, or even tablecloths. Browse our Embroidery department for Silk, Uzbek, Turkmen, and Afghan Suzanis. To learn more about Suzani ethnic textiles, see our Info Pages.

Design Inspirations are Endless!

More gorgeous appliqued textiles from Central Asia that could inspire you to create your own applique designs! These are contemporarily made!  Just click here to visit their website to learn more.

This last photo is, of course, an enlargement of an element from the textile above it. It brings to mind something in my collection plus elements from several other quilts I have captured photos of for study purposes. I'll have to write something separate on that and will put a link here when I do.

Have you made an applique quilt with a black background? Where did you get your design inspiration?!

Karen in the Islands

PS: See updates to this post by clicking here.

April 2014 - Here is an interesting article I stumbled across today about Uzbeck textiles. It is from a research paper presented at the Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America in September 2012  in Washington, D.C.

Mary Elizabeth Corrigan
University of Rhode Island,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

1835 River of Life Pictorial Quilt

1835 River of Life

photo courtesy of Fenmore Art Museum

Here is a link to one of the earliest American pictorial quilts, American Folk Art @ Cooperstown: River of Life.

This marvelous quilt resides at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. AQSG member Sharon Pinka alerted us to the fact that the quilt is going to be exhibited soon after undergoing some conservation.

If any reader is aware of an earlier one than this one dated 1835, please let me know.



Monday, August 9, 2010


YIPPEE! The Quilt Index received a $100,000 grant!!!! I just got the news via a newsfeed tonight. Read the news here.

What this first release really doesn't emphasize is that this grant is to support steps towards internationalizing the Index so that content and use goes well beyond the national emphasis it now has. It is a really important new step.

This second link gives you a bit more of that very important aspect of the story.

As many of you know, The Quilt Index is a division of The Alliance for American Quilts. You can donate to The Alliance or join The Alliance. Either way, you help support The Quilt Index. They have a special membership drive going on right now. Check it out.

I have been working with the Quilt Index for three years as a member of the Signature Quilt Pilot Project Team.

Every project of this type takes on-going fund raising!

Hopefully this grant will inspire all quilt-lovers to send in some matching funds! You can make a donation here.

There is so much work yet to do within capturing community history through quilts.

And speaking of Signature Quilts, I just added another one to my collection today. It happens to be from Ohio, the state in which I grew up. I am told it was made for a member of an Ohio Luthern congregation when she left Ohio to move to Wisconsin about 1920. Hopefully I'll know by tomorrow where in Ohio the quilt was made.

Keep those needles flying so that future historians will have plenty to study!


PS: Do you have a family signature quilt or an old signature quilt you found in an antique shop? Share one of your signature quilt treasures with us in the comments field!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Modern Quilt Guild

Project Modern

Is There Anything New Under the Sun?

Have you heard about The Modern Quilt Guild yet? They are GOOD NEWS for quilting!

I ran across them shortly after the New Year and emailed the founder, Alissa Haight Carlton. Alissa emailed that she and her friend Latifah Saafir had just formally organized the group in October!

(Click on highlighted or underlined words and you will be taken to additional sites for more of the story!)

Alissa had been quilting on her own and communicating with quilters on-line for a couple of years but had very few quilt friends in the "real" world, only the Internet world.

This is a much younger generation of quilters. In fact, from the photos I have seen so far, most appear to be under 40. Yippee! Quilting is alive and well as a new generation once again "reinvents" its take on quilting!

I ask Alissa how they differ from other guilds and she admitted that it is hard to quantify. For the most part they are more "improvisational" than "traditional", yet there are those amongst them who use traditonal patterns but prefer very modern looking fabrics.

Many among them are especially very inspired by Amy Butler, Heather Ross, Anna Marie Horner, Denyse Schmidt and Valori Wells but their love of fabric is by no means limited to just these designers. Valori Wells also has a blog. Keeping up with all these    gals is a real challenge!

If they have one thing in common, though, it is their obsession for fabric! Does that sound familiar or what?!!

I found one statement particularly interesting. Alissa mentioned attending a quilting convention in Long Beach in 2009 and not finding the kind of fabric that she had been seeing on-line. That seemed to be one of the catalysts that spurred she and Latifah to finally get their on-line quilt community organized in a "formal" fashion in October 2009. Eight months later some 73 groups have formed around the globe, including Canada, Australia, Switzerland, the U.K. and Germany!

Let's hear it for the Internet that has brought this younger generation of quilters together to kick-start the next quilt renaissance!

Do take some time to explore their network of websites and see what the younger generation is doing!

Karen in the Islands


Quilter's Home magazine just did an article about this modern quilt movement in their June/July issue.


The Modern Quilt Guild continues to grow by leaps and bounds in many areas of the country.  Click here to read a report about a Kansas group.


Yep, they're still growing!  I asked the following question on the AQSG discussion list last week:

The Modern Quilt Guild (founded 2009) is holding its first international
Modern Quilting conference in Austin TX Feb 2013.  

How do you think this conference will differ from other quilt conferences?  Perhaps it is like the machine quilters who eventually had their own conference separate from "regular" conferences -- like Houston or Paducah?>>

The blurb in QNM also states that the  conference will include a juried "modern quilt show".  Does that mean they will "exclude" certain patterns and styles?  Remember the big controversy in the 1980s about not allowing machine quilted quilts? In the end, instead of excluding the show organizers simply added a new category for judging "machine quilted".

How very interesting for the study of changing quilt history.>>

As a result of my question, we  learned that Pepper Cory had written an in-depth column about this new network of quilters for FabShop Magazine about 18 months ago. 

In addition, Ellen Rushman, a recent graduate of the UNL Quilt Studies program wrote:

I just graduated from the UNL Quilt Studies program after completing my thesis project on...the Modern Quilt Guild!  The aim of my project was to understand what draws people into the group as well as how they contextualize the quilts they make in terms of the art/craft debate.  I interviewed 26 women from seven different guilds across the country.  I concluded that modern quilting is both an attitude and an aesthetic.  The attitude of modern quilting is related to a lack of rules, abundance of personal choice, and desire to make functional quilts.  All the participants in my study embodied this attitude.  The aesthetic of modern quilting - minimalism, improvisation, etc - was not embraced by every participant in my study.  So, the community aspect of the group outweighs the aesthetic of modern quilting for many members.

Also, it appears to be a misconception that the MQG is a predominately young group.  Both the demographic information from my participants as well as they results of a 2011 MQG online survey with over 1000 respondents suggest that modern quilters are a bit older than everyone thinks.  For example, many of the participants in my study were in their 50s, had been quilting for decades, but wanted to try something new. 

If you are interested in reading more about my study, you can download it here: or copy and past this link into your search engine: